I watched from the hut as Ashley gently tapped Matt on the shoulder and he stopped mid scratch to look at her. She whispered to him and indicated toward the hut. He turned and looked over his shoulder at me and I gave him a little friendly wave and a smile.
Matt got up from his towel and Ashley followed him as he came over, head down, to the waterfront hut.
“Hi Nurse,” he said softly.
“You can call me Anne.”
“So…I hear that you are a bit itchy? Want me to check for critters?”
“Yes please,” he said and then looked down at his feet again.
“OK. Step inside here with myself and Ashley and we can have a quick peek.”
Matt stepped inside the small hut and nervously looked around. He was cracking his knuckles between quick scratches of his head. Ashley shut the door behind her and stood in front of the window for some semblance of privacy.
“So we did a check of your head back on Sunday and you didn’t have any problems then Matt. Is that right?”
“Ya but my, my, my mum made me use the special shampoo on Saturday night. But now I am worried that they, they, they are back and it’s making me itch.”
I had read that it sometimes took several treatments to rid kids of lice. I remembered the home remedy for lice that was posted inside the health office. The ingredients included oil and vinegar and then wrapping the hair in a bag and leaving it in overnight. I recalled looking at the recipe and thinking that you could make a big batch, use some for the hair, wrap your head up and then prepare a lovely mixed green veggie salad and drizzle the remainder over top. Pair it with a nice tart, zingy white wine like a Sauvignon and bingo you have taken a bad situation and make it fabulous! But that was probably the abstinence kicking in there!
“So you had lice recently?”
“No but four of my, my, my friends on my baseball team had them after the sleepover last week. So then my mum freaked out because, because, because she thought I would get them at camp and then I would get, get, get, get sent home.” Matt continued nervously cracking his knuckles.
I placed a hand gently on his shoulder. Poor little guy was wound tight!
“Oh no Matt. We won’t send you home. Don’t worry. OK? I ‘m just going to look though?”
I pulled out a pencil and some tweezers I had found in the first aid kit in the hut. Matt assumed the position. He had done this before. That was a bit disconcerting.
Matt’s hair was about an inch and a half long. I started behind the ears and had a good look there. Nothing. Then I started systematically parting his hair and examining the scalp and the hair itself. I nodded at Ashley to help me look. She had younger eyes then mine. Together we bent over Matt and did a thorough exam. I could not see any signs of lice or nits. There were plenty of flakes and I did see obvious signs of Matt’s persistent scratching.
I looked at Ashley and gave her a shake of my head. She gave me a shake back and a shrug of her shoulders.
“Well Matt…” I said as I stepped back.
“Are you gonna, gonna, gonna send me home?” His face was white with terror.
“Nah little dude. I’m gonna get you some ‘Head & Shoulders’ shampoo. You have dandruff.”
The relief on his face was immediately evident.
“Dandruff?! My dad has dandruff!” He giggled with relief.
“See. You just take after your dad. I don’t see any lice. So I will get you some of that shampoo. When do you get to have a shower?”
“This evening before the camp fire.”
“Perfect. In the meantime try to stop scratching, OK?”
“So you are not going to kick me out of camp?”
“Matt! Even if you had a million little friends crawling around your head, we wouldn’t throw you out of camp, silly!” Ashley ruffled his (lice free) hair.
Then the little guy gave me a hug around the waist. My heart melted a little.
“Thank you. I am so glad I don’t have to go home. I don’t ever want to leave camp. I love it here.”
“Well you get to stay Matt. Let’s go back to the beach now.” Ashely said as she opened the hut door and Matt ran out.
I thanked Ashley and then put the pencil and tweezers back into the first aid kit. I took a deep breath with relief and satisfaction. More lives saved. I turned to leave the hut and gave my head a good satisfying scratch.